Wow! Thanks everyone for all the feedback!
I think what I am leaning towards is the following:
1. Fujiwara Carbon $73 http://www.chefknivestogo.com/fujiwara210.html
- although they list the spine as 3.8mm (that has to be a typo, no?)
2. Kohetsu Blue 2 - $99 http://www.chefknivestogo.com/kohetsublue1.html
- there is no bolster... not sure how that will feel in the hand
3. Hiromoto Blue Super - $141 http://www.chefknivestogo.com/higy21.html
- much more than the others, but is Super Blue is the way to go, this seems like the best deal. A little concerned about it being to beefy. Thoughts?
4. Yamashin White #1 - $90 http://www.chefknivestogo.com/yawh1gy21.html
- seems like White #1 can take an edge like no other. Dan recommended the Goko W1, but they are all OOS. This was the only W1 on the website in my price-range. I watched a video on this site of someone with a Goko W1 slicing a tomato with just the weight of the blade - impressive, but I have no idea if that type of performance will translate to this knife, even if it is similar construction. Anyone have any thoughts on this knive - especially compared to the others?
5. The wildcard as it is the only SS: Goko Damascus - $99 http://www.chefknivestogo.com/goko.html
- really leaning towards a carbon blade, but this is simply very appealing - super thin, light (does this qualify as a "laser"?), great price. And it looks cool as a bonus. How hard is this to sharpen properly (given that I am a novice)?
I guess the more I thought about it, the better is seemed to purchase a little less on the blade, and invest the saved money in some good sharpening stones (but I am willing to step up to the Hiromoto if the consensus is it is a better knife). Based on the feedback everyone provided, it looks like all these knives are good, just different.
Again, any help differentiating among these would be greatly appreciated.